Why the Business Community is the Driving Force for Change
Amid a global health crisis, businesses emerged as the apparent leaders in educating and supporting employees and their local communities on a wide variety of health-related issues. While public distrust in health-related information grows, employees are looking to their employers as a trusted source of guidance. Employers have become the go-to resource for COVID-19 safety and prevention, management of chronic conditions, mental health, financial wellness, health equity, and more as the structural inequities, health disparities and flaws of the U.S. healthcare system became more apparent. Now, organizations are beginning to realize their involvement in rebuilding the public health infrastructure.
COVID-19 has not only exposed the dire consequences of our flawed public health systems – but has also directly harmed the health and wellbeing of all individuals. In a new report from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the de Beaumont Foundation, featuring insight from our Science Advisory Board member, Dr. Ron Goetzel, experts call for business and public health alignment to ensure a healthier future for all.
Much like employee health and wellbeing have become integral to business success, “the nation has learned that a robust and effective public health infrastructure is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but rather a ‘must-have’ component of a healthy and sustainable American economy.” Through ongoing interactions with employees, customers, and local communities, businesses are in a unique position to drive meaningful change in the physical, mental, financial, and social health of their workforce, within their communities, and on a more significant public health level.
Unfortunately, many businesses are struggling with issues stemming from the pandemic. Leaders are still seeking effective strategies to keep dispersed workforces engaged. Employees face unprecedented levels of chronic stress and unforeseen mental health issues, and businesses are grappling with their financial woes. There must be an equal level of collaboration between the business world and the public health world for change to be realized.
In this report, Goetzel and his colleagues outline seven actionable recommendations that business and public health leaders can use as a guide to creating nationwide health equity:
- “Put out the fire” of COVID-19 by following the advice of credible public health experts.
- Improve the health and wellbeing of employees.
- Promote healthy communities.
- Become a “force multiplier” by leveraging expertise, staff, and other resources to collaborate with local and state public health departments to be better prepared for future public health emergencies.
- Actively facilitate public-private partnerships in the community.
- Advocate for developing accountability dashboards that track and monitor progress toward achieving critical economic and public health outcomes in a community.
- Advocate for rebuilding and expansion of a national public health workforce supported by a modern information technology infrastructure.
While this is a major undertaking for the business community, it also presents many benefits for organizations that lead the charge. Healthier communities mean healthier employees, and healthier employees mean a more successful business. As Dr. Goetzel pointed out in a recent interview with the Washington Post, “By demonstrating that you care about your people and communities, you attract top talent, motivate employees to be mission-driven, improve your brand, and may even bolster your stock price as a result.”
Discover how your organization can take the lead and strengthen public health partnerships for a healthier, happier, more equitable future by accessing the report today.